Circe Wallace is used to being ahead of the curve. After becoming a professional snowboarder in the 1990s, she competed in the first-ever X Games, won a World Championship in Japan, and even worked with Vans to create the world’s first snowboarding boot designed specifically for women.
After retiring from the pro circuit, she’s become a top agent for other snowboarders, skaters, and surfers. In the late ’90s, she founded one of the first professional agencies to specialize in representing these athletes. She’s now executive vice president at Wasserman Media Group, which represents world-class competitors including Olympic gold-medal snowboarder Iouri Podladtchikov and longtime pro skateboarder Paul Rodriguez.
Red Bull called Wallace “one of the most influential figures in global action sports.” And that’s just her day job.
On April 20, 2017, Wallace branched out, combining her prowess in pro sports with her lifelong love of cannabis to launch extraction company Hot Nife. She’s been painstakingly building the business ever since, drawing on many of the same skills she honed in the sports world.
“Working in a very male-dominated space certainly prepared me for the ongoing power structure that is dominated by men in cannabis,” she said.
As a woman growing up in the early snowboarding scene, Wallace had less economic opportunities than her male counterparts—and, unlike them, was often asked to objectify herself in advertising, she said. Although she did develop forever friendships with some “good men” in the industry, she said, she learned early on that she had to “work harder and be louder” to get what she wanted. She developed a cocky, ambitious attitude to help inflate her own confidence—but as a result, men often told her she “scared them” or came across as a “bitch,” she said.
Each of Hot Nife’s extracts is full-spectrum, single-origin, and made using only cannabis-derived terpenes.
In the cannabis sector, Wallace said, it would be easy to get discouraged by things like the disproportionate number of cannabis licenses granted to men and the limited pool of female investors. But she’s instead trying to focus changing what she described as a “patriarchal power dynamic.” There are already a lot more women running businesses in cannabis than there are in other sectors, she noted.
“I see cannabis as an area of immense and incredible opportunity for women,” Wallace said. “I have to believe that shop owners and consumers will want to do business with operators who are honest and see the big picture. This business really is about relationships.”
Wallace is also channeling her experience from the snowboarding industry’s early days as she navigates the rapidly expanding cannabis sphere. “I think I understand how to ride the wave of taking a nascent industry into the mainstream,” she said.
With no experience actually growing cannabis, Wallace decided to focus instead on manufacturing a high-end, “super clean and organic” cannabis concentrate using CO2 extraction, she said. Each of Hot Nife’s extracts is full-spectrum, single-origin, and made using only cannabis-derived terpenes.
“I like to think of it as a nice bottle of wine,” Wallace said. “It’s all the nuances of any particular single strain that I think is interesting.”
Like many extractors, Hot Nife produces concentrates from sativa, indica, and hybrid cannabis strains. But the company doesn’t stop there. It also offers a CBD cartridge produced from sun-grown hemp and, for those looking for a bit more buzz, “Hot Nife Lit,” an oil that contains up to 90% THC.
All of her products are branded with a throwback ‘90s vibe, complete with a neon color schemes and a wild, scrawled script. (Paying homage to Wallace’s background, Hot Nife also sells skateboard decks.) It’s cannabis with a California skater attitude.
Hot Nife’s throwback branding is also evident in the company’s hot pink palm tree logo and on its Instagram account, which features a succession of stoner-approved movie clips and skate videos.
Even the brand’s name is old-school. Hot Nife is a play on “hot knife”—a reference to a rudimentary method of cannabis consumption: heat up two knives on a stovetop, press a nug between them until smoke comes out, and then use a straw or makeshift funnel to inhale.
It’s kind of the like the “OG dab,” explained Wallace. “It was like a communal thing and you did it with your friend and it was funny and kind of dangerous.”
Cannabis, of course, has changed a lot since Wallace first smoked it as an Oregon teenager. And as the mother of a teenager herself, Wallace has grown more sensitive to youth use. Although weed is “so much better” than alcohol, she said, she thinks consumption should be limited to people whose brains are fully developed, meaning adults at least 25 years old.
But more pivotal than changes in quality or strength, Wallace says the growing acceptance of cannabis has been a game-changer. She’s only recently been able to shake off the shame and guilt often thrust upon consumers, she said, and instead proudly declare: “I’m a stoner.”
Not that she fits the burnout stereotype. Today, in addition to her position at Wasserman, Wallace works with her partner—her father-in-law, whom she describes as a “weed smoker and engineer”—as well as a small staff to push Hot Nife products out into a handful of dispensaries throughout Southern California. It’s a nimble, gritty team—and one that maintains the “punk attitude” Wallace was known for as a professional snowboarder, she said.
Wallace has also parlayed many of her industry relationships into the new venture. Many of her investors are also longtime clients, including snowboarders such as Travis Rice and Olympic medalist Torah Bright.
Bright, 31, has won Olympic gold and silver medals for the half-pipe. She first met Wallace when she was just 15 years old. “I was in awe when I learned of who exactly she was and what she had accomplished in snowboarding,” Bright said of Wallace.
When Bright ultimately signed Wallace as her agent, she was taken under her predecessor’s wing. Wallace helped guide her “through big decisions as [a] growing woman in my sport,” Bright said.
“When I heard Circe was heading into this space — I was thrilled. I thought… why not?” Bright told Leafly in an email. “It was a no-brainer to support a friend, a business woman, and an all-time legend in my eyes.”
Hot Nife products are available at California cannabis stores, including: